Stand Whose Ground?

Or, who’s standing on what grounds?


AG Eric Holder says we should stand our ground against  “stand your ground” laws. Easier said than done, and this smacks of the same hollow lip service and pandering we are used to hearing from Republicrats and Demicans on just about anything but gay rights these days.

Thanks to the radical and systematic social engineering efforts of the far right designed to divide and rule our society and destroy democracy; assisted by billionaire-funded think tanks and industry-sponsored institutions like the NRA, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); ratified by sleazy politicians and corrupt  judges; and applauded by tens of millions of racist, paranoid, or belligerent Americans, some 25 states now have what are euphemistically called “stand your ground” laws.

The full, technical terminology for such laws, without which it is impossible to understand the bizarre logic of how they are applied in particular court cases, is this:

Angry white supremacist or racist vigilante males stand your ground–everybody else get the fuck down on the ground and we might not bust a cap in your ass law

That’s why Trayvon had no right to stand his ground, much less bust a cap (if he could have) in Zimmerman’s ass when Zimmerman assaulted him.

That’s why Marissa Alexander got a 20-year sentence for firing a warning shot while black and female, despite invoking ‘Stand Your Ground’:

…Alexander [fired] a shot… which lodged into the ceiling. She was charged with 3 counts of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Despite being offered a 3 year sentence and later a probational sentence with time served, Alexander chose to attempt a Stand Your Ground defense prior to trial but was unsuccessful. She was found guilty and according to Florida’s gun laws (where 10 years can be added for committing a crime while carrying a firearm, with an added 10 years for discharging a firearm during a crime) was sentenced to 20 years. (Wikipedia)

After the Alexander sentencing U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown commented “The Florida criminal justice system has sent two clear messages today…One is that if women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the ‘Stand Your Ground Law’ will not apply to them. … The second message is that if you are black, the system will treat you differently.”

Summing up “stand your ground”: your self defense defense is most likely to hold up in court if (in order of importance):

  1. You are not black or female
  2. Your victim is black or female
  3. There are no surviving eye-witnesses (audio evidence is not prejudicial)
  4. The jury is stacked with bigots and/or idiots
  5. The prosecutor and judge are incompetent

PR

ALEC envy

click for image credit

Lately I’ve been experiencing ALEC envy.

As we know, ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a shady organization that mass-produces canned legislation in service to the corporate neofeudalist agenda.

Friends, brothers, and sisters . . . I come not to bury ALEC but to praise it — not for its deeds, but for its design.

We often confuse the evil men do with the tools and logistics used. I don’t think many progressives yet see the potential for good and for actually promoting direct democracy hidden in the ALEC model because of how it has been abused. I think that’s why things like ALICE  (ALEC’s non-evil, progressive twin) aren’t getting more support.

When I look under the hood of the ALEC machine with a system analyst’s eye I see some things that I like. If the 1% plutocons had not invented the ALEC model, the 99% would need to do it. ALEC is to politics as genetic engineering is to old-fashioned selective breeding. It takes the process of creating legislation from being an art to being a science and technology. And as destructive as such political engineering can be in the wrong hands, its technical innovations are potentially a good thing for participatory democracy.

“ALEC’s astonishing influence exposes the progressive Achilles’ heel: a lack of a similarly entrenched, nationwide infrastructure of state and local policymakers and advocates that can create and support lasting change.” (Katrina vanden Heuval, Deepening the progressive bench, via The Democratic Startegist)

In politics, liberals are still bringing protest signs to what has become, in the era of ALEC and other authoritarian political innovations, a gun fight (sometimes literally). It’s hard not to envy the 1% such a big, swinging tool.

Of course the ALEC model, as implemented by the 1%, violates tax and lobbying laws. We need to bust them HARD on that. Common Cause is calling for a tax fraud investigation. Meanwhile, we need to copy, hack, and re-mix parts of the ALEC model into a new model that is a venue for creating public interest open source legislation.  The right-wing ALEC is run like a criminal conspiracy. A citizens’ Open Legislative Exchange Council (OLEC) can be run like a democratic cooperative. The old ALEC is sick in the original sense of the word but a new public-interest OLEC could be sick in a street way, yo?

Why bother? Many state legislatures still have part-time and/or unpaid lawmakers with small or shared staffs. This makes them very susceptible to lobbyists who will hand them ready-made bills on a platter (not that corporate-sponsored national legislators aren’t, too). And we still want to think that legislators should be regular people, 99% people, who need not be professional career politicians, insiders, or technocrats who are independently wealthy and technically capable of writing good legislation in their spare time.

Transparency vs Secrecy

What ALEC prefers to do with as much secrecy as possible, the 99% can do in full daylight. An open version of the ALEC model can give all stakeholders in the 99% community a fair place at the legislative drafting table and every stakeholder can have a  position on the people’s “open legislative assembly line”. Our legacy political institutions often failed to do that even before they were captured by 1%  money.

OWS and open-source legislation

Part of the Occupy Wall Street movement could undertake to re-engineer the ALEC model to be consistent with 99% values and methods such as crowd-sourcing and open source collaboration. I think such adaptations would actually increase the tactical power of the model. A green ALEC could research, engineer, and promote legislative projects that would implement much of the OWS 99% agenda through well-crafted, enlightened and responsible species of open-source legislation. Instead of being governed by and catering to profit-motivated corporations, Citizens’ OLECs would be  governed by and accountable to public interest groups and activists across the 99% spectrum.

Reddit community crowd-sources “Free Internet Act

“On January 18th, we saw a day of online protest that at least for now killed SOPA and Protect IP. The Reddit community was one of many that played a huge role in pressuring not only businesses like GoDaddy to change their stance, but also members of Congress like Paul Ryan. Now, the community has come up with a proposed plan to create a piece of legislation, called the Free Internet Act, Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian explains.”

e-democracy

The U.S. congress’s attempts at e-democracy have been a “baby step compared to what others have done around the world,” says Matt Lira, the digital communication director for Congressman Eric Cantor. For Lira, there are some key reasons why he’s had difficulty pressuring Congress to become more digitally savvy. He contends that the political party in power has little incentive to give up authority to an experimental process that may tip the balance of power. Congress’s two most significant e-initiatives have been launched by Republicans — America Speaking Out, an aggregation platform where users list and prioritize various social issues, and YouCut, an SMS-based voting system to select which programs a few Republican congressman will attempt to cut.  (mashable.com)

The Republicans may be slow to adopt e-democracy, but it seems they are way ahead of the 99%! Other countries, including Brazil, are ahead of us, too. We will need to elect more progressive legislators and get money out of the political process before we can make democracy much more participatory. But a tool like a citizens’ Open Legislative Exchange Council should be invaluable to a new class of 99% citizen-legislators and voters.

Poor Richard

Related:

Know the enemy and steal the advantage:

知彼知己,百戰不殆;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼,不知己,每戰必殆

“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” (Sun_Tzu, The Art of War)

Addendum for techies What kind of technology platform do we need for open, crowd sourced legislation development? I hate to say it, but we probably need at least the same caliber of development tool-set used to build things like Linux or other huge software projects. It would be a highly integrated and graphical development environment with ungodly enterprise-class content management and project management capability. Last but not least you’d want a great semantic “legislation debugger”. After all, legislation is a hell of a lot like a giant  code repository. There would be a very large “legislation developer” community with different skill sets. It might take a half dozen different user interfaces for different classes of participants and different client devices (notebooks, tablets, smart phones, etc.) I think the shortest path might be integrating and customizing some of the open source enterprise-class applications out there like Eclipse and whatever the biggest CMS might be. Wikis have the scalability but not the ease of use necessary for all classes of users. It all has to run as web services so users only need a browser. I think we’re talking a chunk of change and a very good team to build something like that.  Any feedback would be nice.

The Attack Without Mercy

Republicans and their private industry masters are on the attack in the US Congress, in the courts, in the media, and in states across the country. They are enacting “emergency powers”, gutting state treasuries,

Apocalypse, By Jiří Melantrich z Aventina (Wikimedia)

smashing unions, firing teachers, slashing education, rewriting textbooks, and privatizing government functions. They are flaunting sunshine laws, state constitutions, and legislative rules. They are preparing to impose “financial martial law”, to seize power from local governments, enacting rules to inhibit poor and minority voting, and rigging voting machines.   They are demonizing LGBT’s and intruding into womens’ wombs.

New Republican governors are slashing corporate taxes, giving away state assets, and granting no-bid sweetheart contracts to cronies, family members, and even to their own personal companies.  They are giving away the store and putting the foxes in charge of the hen-house.

In the nation’s capitol, House Republicans are willing to shut down the government unless they get their way on blocking EPA’s ability to address global warming and mountain top mining removal. The Obama White House seems ready to go along, as it is going along with new nuclear plant licenses and subsidies, uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, and a frenzied new deep-water and wilderness drilling spree without any real new safeguards. They are deregulating everything from mass media to mining, invading privacy, and waging war on the poor. They are attacking the middle class,  jobs, wages, education, science, history, public infrastructure,  public broadcasting, gender parity, health care, pensions, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, Food Stamps, and Social Security. They are trying to utterly destroy civil society and democracy itself. It is a full-on counter-revolution:

Tax cuts & corporate welfare = artificial budget crises = “emergency” laws & powers = mass privatization of public property and services

From one end of the country to the other they are bragging, gloating,  slapping each other on the back. They are sharpening their knives. And they are crowing like roosters, tossing their heads and stamping their hooves like bulls, squealing like pigs, and strutting around like royal peacocks. And they obviously think they are just getting started. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The real shock and awe has yet to begin…

The Uber-Liber-Republican Blitzkrieg.

Will they succeed? How far can they go? The big question everyone is asking is…

Are they over-reaching?

Can we push them back? Maybe even smack them down?

No one can answer that yet, and a lot depends on us. But things are pretty crazy. To make it worse, the same thing seems to be happening all around the world at the same time.

What if this were Apocalypse — now? (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) An apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception. (Wikipedia/Apocalypse)

What I mean is, what if the gloves are off, the masks are off, and the uber-rich are beginning their final campaign for the total subjugation of humanity? What if we ain’t seen nothin’ yet? What if we are hearing the first bugle call of

the attack without mercy?


From a transcript of  Little Big Man, a 1970 film directed by Arthur Penn

General Custer: I see no hostiles behind us. Do you see any?

Major: No, sir, not at the moment.

General Custer: Then…stop trying to cause a reversal of a Custer decision.

Major: But, sir, wouldn’t it be best to send a squad down Medicine Tail Coulee?

General Custer: No, it wouldn’t.

Major: – May I ask, sir, why it wouldn’t?

General Custer: Because it would cost us the vital element of surprise.

Major: Surprise? They know we’re here.

General Custer: But they don’t know that I intend to attack them without mercy.

Major: – That’s no surprise.

General Custer: Of course it is. Nothing in this world is more surprising than the attack without mercy!

What if

I’m not going all religious and mystical here. I don’t believe in a holy war to determine the fate of the earth. But I think the ultra-rich may. WHAT IF THEY DO? Aren’t they really a bunch of sick psychopaths who think they have a right to rule the world, and don’t they believe in manifest destiny and crazy shit like that? Have we been paying attention to history?

Lets not make the same mistake that indigenous people all over the world have made by thinking the great spirit is on our side or that our enemy has any limits. Maybe we had better start getting all the tribes together and getting our war paint on–for real.

Because if we prepare for the worst and it doesn’t happen what have we lost? But if we expect something less than the worst possible scenario and we underestimate the intentions, the insanity, and the power of the enemy– we may end up toast.

We know we are under attack. We see it coming. But we may not see into the hearts and minds of the devils that are attacking us. I’m not talking about the Republicans or even the Wall street CEOs–I’m talking about their masters. People we’ve probably never heard of, people who have never filed a tax return, people who are probably laid up in private, fortified hospitals on exotic life support systems, ruling the world through giant law firms and PR companies.

Sure, we know we’re under attack. But what if we’ve never seen an attack quite like this before?

What if we are the simple natives in this scenario and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Conquest, War, Famine and Death) are riding up out of hell at full gallop, about to charge  into the midst of our teepees,  like they did at the Battle of Washita River (also called the Washita Massacre of 1868), when Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s 7th U.S. Cavalry attacked Black Kettle’s Southern Cheyenne camp?

If you want a little taste of what that might be like, click the image below and then click the new image again to get the maximum enlargement.

…What if nothing in this world really is more surprising than the attack without mercy?

 

Poor Richard

  • The Story of the Battle of the Washita (cowboytoursofokla.com) “Custer ordered the slaughter of the Indian pony and mule herd estimated at more than 800 animals. The lodges of Black Kettle’s people, with all their winter supply of food and clothing, were torched. Realizing now that many more Indians were threatening from the east, Custer feigned an attack toward their downriver camps, then quickly retreated to Camp Supply with his hostages.The engagement at the Washita might have ended very differently if the larger encampments to the east had been closer to Black Kettle’s camp. [emphasis added] As it happened, the impact of losing winter supplies, plus the knowledge that cold weather no longer provided protection from attack, convinced many bands to accept reservation life.”
  • If We Don’t Act ‘The Game Really Is Over’ (Elizabeth Warren On The Daily Show)
  • To The American Media: Time To Face The Reality Of Election Rigging By Jonathan Simon (opednews.com)
  • Egyptian workers face US-backed counter-revolution (OpEdNews)
  • Wisconsin’s most dangerous professor, Why are Republicans desperate to see Bill Cronon’s emails? “…as part of his effort to understand the historical roots of the nationally coordinated state-level legislative attack on unions, Cronon focused his spotlight on a relatively under-the-radar group called the American Legislative Exchange Council.” “The most important group, I’m pretty sure, is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which was founded in 1973 by Henry Hyde, Lou Barnett, and (surprise, surprise) Paul Weyrich. Its goal for the past forty years has been to draft “model bills” that conservative legislators can introduce in the 50 states. Its website claims that in each legislative cycle, its members introduce 1000 pieces of legislation based on its work, and claims that roughly 18 percent of these bills are enacted into law. (Among them was the controversial 2010 anti-immigrant law in Arizona.)”  “Cronon surmises that his efforts to highlight the role of ALEC precipitated the Republican open records response.”
  • Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (williamcronon.net)
  • American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (sourcewatch.org)
  • SUPREME COURT — The Chamber’s Genie (pr.thinkprogress.org) “Ever since Chief Justice Roberts joined the Supreme Court, corporate America has treated his Court as its personal genie, and Roberts has been eager to grant even many of their most outlandish wishes. … As one of the Chamber’s top Supreme Court litigators bragged, “except for the solicitor general representing the United States, no single entity has more influence on what cases the Supreme Court decides and how it decides them than the National Chamber Litigation Center…. This week, corporate America made three especially large wishes to the justices, and the Court’s conservatives once again appear eager to grant them: ELECTIONS FOR SALE: Citizens United is merely one part of a much larger campaign to cement big money’s control over American electionsSLAMMING COURTHOUSE DOORS: Many of the Court’s most corporate-friendly decisions create complicated and arcane procedural barriers to Americans seeking justice….IMMUNITY TO THE LAW: There’s nothing corporate America loves more than actual immunity from the law. Past Supreme Court decisions gave sweeping legal immunity to medical device manufacturers and health insurers, and even gave the thumbs up to a biased system of corporate-owned courts that overwhelmingly rule against consumers and employees.”
  • Is Obama Giving Up On Global Warming? | Mother Jones via CREDO Mobile:“House Republicans are willing to shut down the government unless they get their way on blocking EPA’s ability to address global warming and mountain top mining removal. And the White House is signaling readiness to cave in.”
  • Japan says battle to save nuclear reactors has failed, Thursday 31 March 2011. “Japanese officials have conceded that the battle to salvage four crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has been lost. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], said the reactors would be scrapped, and warned that the operation to contain the nuclear crisis, now well into its third week, could last months. Tepco’s announcement came as new readings showed a dramatic increase in radioactive contamination in the sea near the atomic complex. Tens of thousands of people living near the plants have been evacuated or ordered to stay indoors, while the plant has leaked radioactive materials in to the sea, soil and air.”        [NOTE: This disaster, involving tons of plutonium (a single pound of which, if evenly distributed, could wipe out all life on earth) and a cocktail of other radioactive elements, may threaten many millions of people (if not all of us)  for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years to come. ~PR]
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